FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)– After the Afghan government fell in 2021, Afghan refugees came to the United States, seeking asylum.

The Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend (CCFWSB) received a $50,760 grant from St. Joseph Community Health Foundation on Thursday to help the Afghan refugees that arrived in Fort Wayne last fall.

Due to the rapid fall of the Afghan government, those that were seeking asylum in the U.S were listed as “parolees” or “evacuees” and are required to apply for permanent residency in the U.S. within strict timelines.   

The refugees need to apply for permanent residency by August, so CCFWSB is helping 133 refugees in Fort Wayne to provide the necessary legal help.

“Immigration experts across the country are overwhelmed by the number of Afghan cases that need to be processed in such a short amount of time,” said Luz Ostrognai, Director of Immigration Services at CCFWSB. “This grant ensures those [Afghans] resettled locally, will have timely and proper legal services for their immigration case.”   

The grant will help expand services by conducting group orientations, providing individual screenings, consulting on legal pathways to citizenship, aiding in court proceedings, and advising on family reunification options.   

“Our sponsor, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, came to northeast Indiana from Germany in 1868 to help local immigrants. They have continually responded to the call of refugees and immigrants around the world. Today the St. Joe Foundation carries on that mission of supporting immigrants and refugees in our community,” said Meg Distler, executive director of the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation. “We are proud to support Catholic Charities in their efforts to welcome our Afghan neighbors and help them on the path to permanent residency.”